When a California Family Law Court orders one spouse (the supporting spouse) to pay support to the other spouse (the supported spouse), the court also gives a warning to the supported spouse to become self-supporting. This warning furthers the State of California’s goal for spouses to make reasonable, good faith efforts to become self-supporting, and that failure to make such reasonable, good faith efforts may be a factor considered by the court as a basis for modifying or terminating spousal support.
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A spouse’s self-supporting duty is their obligation to become employed within a reasonable amount of time so that the supporting spouse can terminate spousal support and/or lower child support.
Purpose of Spousal Support
The purpose of spousal support is to enable the supporting party to become self-supporting. Often, a supported spouse has the expectation that they are entitled to support and that it should be forever. A spouse’s duty to become self-supporting is tantamount to the supporting spouse’s duty to be employed to pay support. The receipt of spousal support and a share of the community property in a divorce does not relieve the supported spouse from being accountable for their financial future and the continued need for spousal support.
In a proceeding to modify or terminate spousal support, the supported spouse’s lifestyle, actions, and financial decisions, all will be scrutinized by the supporting spouse (or their attorney) and the court. In addition to the analysis of their employment capabilities and receipt of other income, a supported spouse’s investment strategies will be analyzed to determine if they have reasonably managed their share of any community property received. Only after the supported spouse proved a need will the court order an increase or continuation of spousal support.
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